Low-Level Glyphosate Exposure Causes Liver Damage, New Study Shows

spraying glyphosate herbicide on soybean crop
iStock/fotokostic

A new study shows that real-world doses of the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, can cause serious liver damage in rats. The amounts of glyphosate ingested by the rats were thousands of times below what is permitted by regulators worldwide.

This research seems to indicate that residue of glyphosate consumed in food over time could be linked to rises in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

The study, led by Dr. Michael Antoniou at King’s College London and published by Scientific Reports, an online, open access journal from the publishers of Nature, is the first ever to show a causative link between low doses of glyphosate and serious health problems.

“The findings of our study are very worrying,” says Antoniou. “Our results (…) suggest that regulators should reconsider the safety evaluation of glyphosate-based herbicides.”

The study examined rats who consumed low levels of glyphosate over a two-year period and found that they suffered from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The amounts of glyphosate that the rats consumed is 75,000 times below EU and 437,000 times below US permitted levels.

“The concentration of glyphosate that was added to the drinking water of the rats corresponds to a concentration found in tap water for human consumption,” King’s research associate Dr. Robin Mesnage explained to the Daily Mail. “It is also lower than the contamination of some foodstuffs.”

NAFLD currently affects 25 percent of Americans and is usually caused by excess calorie intake, consumption of processed foods, and sedentary lifestyles. This study shows that glyphosate consumption is another risk factor for the disease.

“Our observations may have human health implication since NAFLD is predicted to be the next major global epidemic,” write the researchers.

NAFLD can progress to a more serious condition, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can cause liver swelling and damage. It can also lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver failure, according to the American Liver Association.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American writer based in Paris. She is particularly interested in the ways in which the stories of one person, one ingredient, one tradition can illustrate differences and similarities in international food culture. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Paste Magazine, and Serious Eats. Twitter: @emiglia | www.emilymmonaco.com.